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18.03.2009 Health

Health service in Ghana dwindling – Minister

Health service in Ghana dwindling – Minister

Dr George Sipa Yankey, Minister of Health, has observed that in spite of the considerable investment of government in importing new technologies and the operational expense of supporting these imports, health service delivery continue to be on the down trend.

“Patients who need precise diagnosis using specific technology are sometimes denied simply because of equipment breakdown or unavailability. In some instances equipment is procured only to lie idle for years because either some parts failed to arrive or proper pre-installations preparations were not made,” he said.

Dr Yankey whose speech was read on his behalf was speaking at a five-day workshop in Greater Accra, on the World Health Organisation's (WHO) tools for Advanced Healthcare Technology Management, for stakeholders in Ghana and Nigeria.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and other collaborators, organised
the workshop designed for biomedical and clinical engineering staff, health service administrators, medical superintendents, directors and health systems managers and staff involved in planning and policy making, attracted 165 participants.

The event, which was co-organised and facilitated by the Ghana Health Service, WHO, International Aid and American College of Clinical Engineering, was split into three sessions, which included management of healthcare resources, software development and Integrated Health Technology Package.

Dr Yankey said although there were many examples of technology failure in the health sector, the lack of equipment maintenance and repair was the major stumbling block in the effective provision of care.

He stressed: “This is related to poor planning, acquisition and deployment of such equipment.”

The Minister said the means to arrest the trend was to ensure stable supply of competent technology managers who could assist decision makers and planners in dealing with complex issues of planning, life cycle, transfer, management and utilisation of health technology in an effective manner.

He noted that physical assets such as facilities and healthcare technology are the greatest capital expenditure in any health sector, adding: “It makes financial sense, therefore to manage these valuable resource, and to ensure that health care technology is selected appropriately, used correctly and to maximum capacity and last as long as possible.”

Dr Yankey called for equipment training plan to cover all aspects of equipment-related skill development.

He also suggested the need for a permanent framework within which healthcare technology can be procured appropriately and efficiently.

To this end, government would embark on an elaborate programme to ensure that each district is provided with at least one-well equipped health facility that will serve the health needs of the people.

Dr Daniel Kertesz, WHO Representative noted that Africa could achieve the health- related Millennium Development Goals, if it gets the necessary strength to deliver effective interventions to people who need it most.

He said WHO had outlined six building blocks for an effective health care system, which include equitable access to essential medical products and technologies of assured quality, safety, efficacy and cost-effectiveness.

Dr Kertesz said the workshop, was a critical step in achieving the broader objectives of developing a national healthcare infrastructure and technology policy, strengthening of healthcare technology management system, and improving health services resource planning and management.

Madam Salamata Abdul-Salem, Acting Chief Director at the MOH, cautioned that health technologies have certain degree of risk to patients, users, health professionals and the environment, hence the need for stakeholders to ensure optimum safety and performance of this equipment.